The text logo of The Bridge at USC. The Bridge Institute, made possibly by a grant from Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife Alya Michelson, hopes to image the human body at the atomic level.

Conventional Thinking Disruption | Bridge Institute@USC Michelson

Over the past century, the sciences, engineering and medicine have become progressively more specialized, each diverging into an array of sub-disciplines. While this approach has led to significant increases in understanding human health, it has also resulted in silos of expertise that run deep and often remain isolated, hindering progress.


A New Approach

It is time to disrupt conventional thinking — converging knowledge to achieve radical progress in improving the human condition. Building upon the university’s Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience Initiative, the Bridge Institute unites eminent professors across the entire university, including the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the Keck School of Medicine of USC, as well as animators and cinematographers in the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, and technology transfer experts in the USC Stevens Center for Innovation.

Common Goal

Mission & Vision

We are artists, engineers, scientists and physicians bridging the molecules of life to improve the human condition.

Imagine a world where scientific data is released from the confines of its originating discipline, allowing us to better understand, integrate and advance knowledge. Our values are Teamwork, Imagination, Innovation, Learning, Teaching, and Convergence.

Brief History

Molecule to Human

Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing of the Vitruvian man remains an icon of the Renaissance period. In a single sketch, he combined the mathematical, architectural, religious, philosophical and artistic principles of his time to provide us with a full map of the human body.

“Man,” he wrote, “is the model of the world.” More than 500 years later, we remain fascinated by the complexities of the human body. We have categorized most of the elements of man at the genetic, molecular and cellular levels, but have yet to integrate the different scales of data together. Until the gaps in these data are bridged, the most effective and efficient ways to develop new drugs and understand diseases will continue to evade us. Google, for example, has embarked on a quest to create a more complete picture of the human brain hoping to pinpoint how diseases might be prevented rather than merely treated. While theirs is a top-down approach, we aim to do the reverse. Working up from the molecular to the cellular to the entire human body — The Bridge Institute will not only advance our understanding of precisely how biological systems function in both healthy and diseased states, but also how to manipulate those functions to dramatically improve human health.

By integrating and synthesizing such new knowledge holistically — across disciplines in the sciences, engineering, medicine and the arts, at multiple size and time scales — the institute will assemble a virtual model of the human body that can be used to create and explore new generations of therapeutics and biomarkers. This atomic resolution model of man will allow for the virtual testing of drug candidates, thereby dramatically increasing patient success rates and lowering drug development costs by avoiding failed clinical trials. The Bridge Institute will further the development of personalized treatment programs and medical devices for specific diseases affecting the brain, such as autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and addiction, and the rest of the body including cancers, and ensure that these breakthroughs reach the marketplace as quickly as possible to benefit patients everywhere.

Raymond Stevens, Vadim Cherezov, Vsevolod Katrich of the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience Bridge Institute on October 23rd, 2014. The Bridge Institute, made possible by retired surgeon and philanthropist Dr. Gary K. Michelson, aims to foster interdisciplinary collaboration to spur the next generation of medical innovations. Photo by Ryan Young.

Led by The Bridge@ USC Director Raymond Stevens (left), USC has joined with academic and industry leaders across the Pacific Rim to create a nonprofit organization that will generate high-resolution images of G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). Professors Vadim Cherezov (center) and Vsevolod “Seva” Katritch (right) will be among those contributing their expertise to help the consortium define the structures of at least 200 GPCRs. This will allow scientists to design pharmaceuticals that more effectively target diabetes, cancer, and mental disorders. (Credit: USC/Ryan Young)



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